Diwali ~ The festival of lights, known to be a typically Hindu tradition is more than just its religious significance. This auspicious occasion is known to be a bonding time for families where they – decorate their households with fairy lights and candles, light up crackers and fireworks, distribute sweets and ‘Prasad’ amongst all community members and so much more. The celebration of this event varies from one region to the other based on beliefs and traditions. This transition of celebration from state to state is hard not to notice and every single one has its own level of uniqueness.
And for families who want to spice up their Diwali for a change, next year, here are 7 places you can visit for a ‘lit’ Diwali , with the most different and unconventional celebrations (freedom from noise and smoke :D)
Well, one can argue that Varanasi is the capital of Hinduism and for good reason. Every Hindu festival is celebrated here with a lot of grandeur and extravaganza. Varanasi’s Diwali is something one should experience at least once in their lifetime. Young at heart or an old soul, it does not matter when you visit this city during Diwali, everyone’s eyes glimmer with the reflection of the diyas afloat on the surface of the holy river Ganga. Not only is it a beautiful sight to see, but also, a very eco-friendly way to celebrate Diwali that doesn’t harm the flora and fauna in any way. Apart from floating diyas, recent trends also include the lighting up of sky lanterns which are always fun and pretty. 😀
Must do : Light diyas and set them afloat in the Ganga (Some even put notes to God in them)
(Diwali celebration in the heart of Varanasi)
One does not usually think ‘Goa’ when the topic of Diwali comes up but Goa’s celebration is one of a kind. A State that’s tourism is rarely ever inactive. People think Goa when they think of a sunset on a beach or a bottle of Feni or the planned trip to Goa with friends (that never happens), in any case, Goa is on top of the tourism industry. Tourism during Diwali is also no exception Goa. The state celebrates it with the celebration of ‘Narakasura Vadha’ ~ the slaying of Narakasura (a demon) by Lord Krishna. Similar to Dussehra where Ravana dummies are burnt, during Diwali, towering Narakasura effigies, sometimes even on motors, are set ablaze coupled by everyone watching the act without the need of firecrackers. The best Narakasura effigies get a prize and are judged by renowned judges and the mass too.
Must do : Go for the Carnival of Narakasuras, and see which one gets the ‘scariest’ first place prize.
(Narakasura effigies at Panaji)
P.S Even if you’re not a fan of fireworks and crowds, and enjoy a rather peaceful time with family/friends during Diwali, sky lanterns by the beach and a dine-out at a beach-side resort with fairy lights does sound enticing, doesn’t it? 🙂
Diwali or Deepavali is not just a stand-alone act, it’s a collaboration. In Kolkata and certain other parts of West Bengal are known for its celebration of Kali Puja – the demonic goddess, the destroyer of evil. Offerings like jewellery, sarees and fabrics are made, which are then sold and given to the poor. Bengalis also celebrate ‘Bhooth Chaturdashi’ the day before which marks the arrival of Goddess Kali. And the Pandals around the city are made with brilliant architectural detail, some made with extravagance out of something simple like dried leaves and some with glorious marvels like pure bronze all over. And believe me, once you enter these pandals, you’ll feel like it’s the scariest haunted house you have visited with – streams of blood flowing, random ghosts popping up, skeletons hanging here and there, sounds that make you feel like someone is chasing you and so much more. Kali Puja is unique in its own way. And ofcourse, the fireworks, crackers and sky lanterns although minimised, still remain and it’s a sight to behold. Especially when you’re watching the City of Joy from a flight.
Must do : Visit Kali Puja Pandals in Southern Calcutta and go for the immersion ceremony.
(Kali Puja at Belur Math)
The Pink City can literally be seen lit up from thousands of feet up in the sky. The city has several forts which are set with light bulbs, fairy lights, lanterns, candles and diyas. It truly takes you back to a time where the palaces and forts remained active and the festivals were celebrated royally. Jaipur is nothing short of a dream destination of sorts. With the turn of every street, you will find markets set with lights and shops overflowing with customers buying food, decorations, lights, rangoli and so much more. Although, Jaipur is a lit up Utopia by itself, nothing beats visiting the Nahargarh Fort of which, not even an inch is left dark.
Must do : Visit the markets like Bada and Chhota Chhopad and Tripolia and get a view of the Nahargarh fort.
P.S Make sure you hire a cab for the day. Traveling is not going to be easy by public transport and walking is not even an option.
(Royal Diwali at Jaipur)
A hill-top Diwali is like a beach-side barbecue – the perfect combination. Manali and Kasol have resorts and small chains of shops in a slant at every level of the city and thousands of tiny lights make up the whole city. Being a youth-friendly city, Manali hosts numerous unconventional, modernistic ways of celebration rather than the typical lighting of firecrackers. Bonfires, Barbecues, Skewers are set up in various resorts. The chilly weather makes the perfect ambience for sitting around the fire and lighting small crackers.
Must do : Visit to Solang Valley and Kasol, stay at the economical student friendly resorts.
P.S It works as a nice way to ditch the pollution of larger cities that have burning of a lot of fireworks and crackers.
(A lit-up Hill Top Diwali)
Also, an atypical spot to spend a Diwali at. But Coorg or Kodagu hosts one of the most culturally rich traditions and people which is not seen anywhere else in India. Eco-friendly celebrations of Diwali in small packages, like diyas, candles, light crackers, fairy lights and more are sold all over the town. The town has small hotels and tree-houses perched on its slopes and it can be the perfect escapade from pollution and a noise-free Diwali is something that helps families spend time better (than hiding in rooms from the cacophony of fireworks)
Must do : Visit the lit-up coffee plantations and take some for home and sit in front of a perched tree house with a bonfire and fairy lights making your own meals (like luxurious camping)
(Diwali at a resort in Coorg)
One does not always need to set things ablaze to appreciate the beauty and thrill of Diwali and Mysore – the Royal City, is the perfect example. The tiny city has been said to have more lights than people during Diwali, the highlights being Tipu Sultan’s Fort and Somnathpur Palace. The already regularly lit-up Vrindavan Gardens appears to come to life with even more lights of various colours and fountains with luminescent colours.
Must do : Visit the Palaces, Vrindavan Gardens Light, Sound and Water show.
P.S A drive away from Bangalore, you can do everything in Mysore and come back to have a dinner in time!
(A spectacle of Mysore Palace during Diwali)